Enough talking, clean up the towns
Karrie Williams, Gleaner Writer
WESTERN BUREAU:Amid mounting dissatisfaction over the messy condition of several town centres in some western parishes, members of civil society are demanding that the municipal councils implement stronger measures to maintain cleanliness in the towns.
"The entire cleaning up of waterways and gullies in the town of Hopewell has been left up to environmental groups or community groups for the past number of years," president of the Hanover Parish Development Committee (HPDC), Cleveland Wright, told Western Focus. "There has never been an emphasis placed on this by the Govern-ment's elected officials. They seem to be lost as it relates to cleaning the environment and keeping the waterways clean."
"I, along with Round Hill Hotel, have been cleaning the beach line for the past four years. We have someone who is employed on a weekly basis to do clean-up and we continue to distribute garbage bags to the citizens to dispose their garbage into," he added.
Wright said many of the elected officials were not only unfamiliar with the communities they represent, but in his opinion, do not care.
"I can carry you through Hopewell and show you drainage that has not even been looked at. They (elected officials) don't even know that they are there. There is disconnect between political representatives and the community. As far as I see, most of the political representatives are always looking out for their own welfare ... and they (could) care less about community development," he said.
Proprietor of the Charela Inn Resort in Negril, Daniel Grizzle, told Western Focus that the persistent garbage management problem in the major westernmost towns was due largely to improper disposal habits and substandard collection procedures.
"As far as Negril is concerned, on a scale of one to 10, I would give it one. When you talk about Negril, Savanna-la-Mar, and Lucea, those are the three towns that impact on us in tourism more than any other town centres, and they are disgusting."
"The councillors, the MPs, all of them ought to be blamed because they can do better. It's a question of what we do ... but this is not just the Government. The residents as well have to take some blame, because we accept it. We do not harass elected members, our mayors, our councillors over the filth that persists in our towns ... ," he said.
He added: "We cannot use the issue of not having enough money as an excuse for the deplorable way in which our town centres are kept. This is about cleanliness. This is about human pride, and if we have any decency and any respect for ourselves, then we would clean our towns."
Vice-president of the HPDC, Leonard Sharpe, said deputy mayor of Lucea, Neville Clare, should be blamed for the shabby state of Hanover's capital town, as he has maintained a poor track record throughout his tenure as councillor of the Lucea Division.
"I believe that if the councillor in charge of Lucea was doing a good job, we would not be having these ongoing issues. Sometimes we can't even blame the mayor. We have to place the blame on the councillor because he is on the ground."
"He is now deputy mayor and I don't even know why they gave him that post because he is not doing any work, but you know it is politics on a whole. I believe that if the councillor was doing his job, we would have a cleaner town and would not be so dependent on the mayor," Sharpe added.
He said the municipal police should enforce the anti-litter laws and ticket litterbugs, and that this would also earn additional revenue for the Government.
"You have some people eat and simply throw their garbage on the street and others who run restaurants and cook shops, (who) employ 'coke-heads' to carry out their garbage in the evenings. This garbage is thrown down on the roadside where it accumulates for dogs and goats to go into it and create a mess as the collection service is not moving fast enough to clean it up," Sharpe said.
When contacted, Clare sought to defend his stewardship of Lucea, claiming that it was the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) and the National Works Agency (NWA) who were responsible for the deplorable conditions in the town.
"In terms of the garbage collection, we know that it is the NSWMA that is the individual agency that deals with garbage collection for towns and everywhere else," Clare said. "For most of the major drains in the towns and all over Jamaica, it is the responsibility of the NWA to have them cleaned, however, from time to time, we do what we can with our limited resources that we get.
"A lot of individuals believe that parish council have money to spend all over the place. It's only limited amounts of funds that we have, so it is not adequate for us to clean all drains. And those that impact on NWA roads we have to be cleaning them also because they lack maintenance. They do no maintenance at all right across the country and I have no apologies for that because NWA does not clean drains as often as they need to be cleaned," he added.